The 2010 baseball season will long be remembered as the year the Rangers made history. I can only hope that one day someone will see the need to recreate it all on the movie screen. During a season which will become almost mythical in Texas Rangers lore, two simple yet obscure clubhouse gestures were born.
From the stands or watching at home on TV you would see Michael Young give a quick swipe in the air, his up-turned, open fist mimicking a bear claw, after a base hit. He aims it only at his dugout to the delight of his waiting teammates, who are strung about and hanging with anticipation over the protective railing of the dugout. His mates quickly echo his silent cry by a show of arms in a return salute: all raise a paw in the air.
When Elvis Andres has safely stolen a base a new salute is seen—he puts both hands to his head with fingers spread to resemble deer antlers. He looks only for his teammates' approval as they echo his movement.
It doesn't really matter who actually started these silent signals—the Rangers fans fell in love with the way the team encouraged one another with the "Claw and Antlers" and were quick to encourage their deserving team.
In the beginning of the season the Rangers players tried hard to keep the meaning of the "Claw and Antlers" solely within the confines of their dugout and clubhouse, using them as a show of team solidarity and friendship among teammates. Once the fans caught hold of the meaning of the gestures, we wanted in on the fun, too.
The Bear Claw became the symbol of strength and power—it was displayed after a base hit when a player safely reached base. Even a successful sacrifice fly would earn a show of the claw. We, the fans, would shower the Claw on our pitchers making that punch-out, strike-out happen, too.
The Antlers simply mean speed and agility—they are earned by stretching a base run into extra bases or a by stealing a base. Ranger fielders would be rewarded the Antler by the fans in the stands for a heads-up play on defense.
To those of us faithfully following the Rangers throughout this season, it didn't take very long to figure out what these hand waves were all about. Before the end of the season, the "Claw and Antlers" would be our rally cry which would see our Texas Rangers to their first postseason victory.
Near the end of the season, during the last series with the New York Yankees, the Texas Rangers released a t-shirt emblazoned with the two hand signals. The workers at the Rangers Majestic store could not keep up with the demand for these shirts. I personally saw fans mobbing clerks who were trying to re-stock the depleted shelves, taking the shirts right out of their hands and leaving them standing empty-handed.
The Texas Rangers have long been known as the whipping boys, the floor-mates, and called the farm program by the rest of the MLB. The 2010 season finally put an end to the team's tormented drought and will go a long way to heal the sufferings of their devoted fans.
And under the new ownership of Nolan Ryan, the Texas Rangers are serving notice to the rest of the league, not just by their great on-field play, but by announcing that the Farm is close to the rest of the league. The Rangers' front office is making big plans after this season to do all they can to keep as many of our players as possible—they have truly taken us to new heights this season.
With the leadership of Skipper Ron Washington, the Rangers are making their first-ever appearance in the American League Conference Series. No matter the outcome now—win or lose—every game is history in the making, as this Rangers team continues to go where no Rangers team has gone before.